(From to distort, and sage,) the name of a species of sage, from the appearance of its leaves and branches curling spirally: its virtues are the same with those of sage. See Salvia. Elementum. Element, (quasi elicimentum, quod omnia ex iis elicita sunt et extracta). A simple body, from whence any thing is first constituted, and which may be resolved into parts not of a different nature, but homogeneous. Empedocles and Aristotle acknowledged as elements, air, earth, fire, and water; an opinion now proved fallacious. Paracelsus, with other chemists, considered earth, salt, sulphur, and mercury, in the same sense; but these are allowed to be the result of theory without the support of experiment. Principles which cannot be subdivided by art are called elements or first principles; and the principles made up of these, secondary principles. Some writers carry this order much further; but it must be confessed, no means have yet been devised to show, unequivocally, whether any such subordination of principles exists. We may indeed discover the component parts of bodies, but we know nothing of their arrangement; and what are considered at one time as the simplest form of bodies, are at others found to be compounds. Hence it is said that the word ought not to be used, but as an expression denoting the last term of our analytical results. Galen observes, that the element is the smallest and most minute part of any thing whose element it is. But the word elements, in a figurative sense, is used for the principles and foundations of any art or science, as
Euclid's elements, the elements of chemistry, elements of medicine: sometimes, as in Haller's great work, the Elementa Physiologic, it implies the minutest component parts; while the abstract, or rudiments, are styled "First Lines."